The pretty pink and blue neon lights flashing on a signboard caught my eye. ‘Get your nails pampered here’ they blinked. This was advertisement for a nail clinic. Wow! A nail clinic….
Not so long ago, the word ‘clinic’ was associated only with doctors' chambers. And it had an ominous ring to it. The moment mom would utter, ‘chalo clinic jaana hai’ we would cringe in fear for it was associated with horrible smells - real and ethereal - including that of ‘fear’, a feeling of dread that pervaded because of kids like us who were dragged unwillingly to the clinic by parents who only had the good of their children at heart. Babies howling, kids whining and sniffling and bringing the roof down with their screams when the needle was struck into them added to being in the ‘horror’ chambers.
Then later beauty clinics came up and they also diversified into specialty - so there were separate clinics for body, skin and hair. And now nails!
Pampering has taken on a whole new level. And I, who cringe at the sight of the daggers that some of my friends have at the end of their fingers, feel out of place in a gathering where the painted talons are flashed. I do not like long nails and one of the most important reasons is that it is unhygienic. My imagination goes haywire thinking of all the invisible germs lurking behind those long grown nails, baring their fangs and grinning at the thought of spreading disease and laughing their evil heads if it takes the form of an epidemic. But that’s my wild imagination! The other major reason is I like to potter around the kitchen, I love dipping my hands in warm soapy waters and washing the dishes and occasionally I tend to chew them while watching a ‘nail biting’ thriller.
But then when one talks of peer pressure, it is not associated only with teens. The pressure is great even at my age. So when my friends started flaunting their designer nails, I ignored for a while. But I did feel belittled. And then those with bejewelled nails spotted the plain Jane and they literally pounced on me. I relented (blame peer pressure) and now I totally relate to my better half who always has this excuse when he exceeds the drinking quota. I was stunned when I stepped into this popular nail clinic .. the ambience put a few hotel lobbies to shame. I was accommodated without prior appointment because of the good offices of my friends, most of who are regular visitors. After the preliminary courtesies were over, I was given a fat glossy brochure to choose what kind of nail treatment I wanted. 'Nail art, nail extensions, nail enhancement, gel extensions, acrylic care, hand paint, air brush, permanent nail embossment all using cruelty-free products, - well my head started reeling at the choices. I was totally stumped. I just couldn’t picture myself with the manicured, silky soft hands and perfectly painted nails, waving them around delicately when I hobnobbed with my boss, for office is the place where I spend my maximum time. I also was acutely aware that close friends with whom I let my hair down - not the ones who bring on the peer pressure- would laugh their heads off when they’d see the awkward me in my comfort clothes with the dazzling nails sticking out like ten sore thumbs. Poor me, caught in a ‘Marta kya nahin karta’ situation.
Because I didn’t have the guts to get up and walk away from this beauty treatment that I thought was too superficial, I was set back by an amount with which I could have had my gall bladder removal operation, a process I kept postponing for lack of monetary resources.
Acutely aware of how much I shelled out, I had to be extra careful as to how I was using my hands. I couldn’t chop vegetables lest a nail accidentally came between the board and the knife, dabbling in water was a strict no no for the wear and tear increased, and woefully I couldn’t eat rice and dal with hands for the nails were artificially long. Oh how I missed that heavenly feeling of lovingly mixing the dal with rice and slurping it up. The satisfaction and the satiety went for a toss. I couldn’t jabber away furiously at my laptop and so work suffered. The boss started throwing daggers at me - these came from his eyes. Thankfully boss is a male and thankfully one who doesn’t sport long nails. Else, he just might have lashed out at me for slipping up with my work.
I lost my smile, for all the time I was worried about those super expensive nails.
At what cost? I wondered.
And I didn’t have the heart of picking up the nail polish remover. For I am a middle class person at heart, always looking for value for money, I couldn’t let all that nail shine go to waste. But one place for sure that is off my list is the nail clinic. Even though they are the only things that you can get in shape without exercising, the advantage is only when you shape them and paint them. For Tammy Taylor, ‘Doing nails is my cardio’, as for me I am happy going to Anil's class for my daily dose of cardio and strength training.